“Asian Fondue” in Chinatown

simply-shabu-surf-turf-square

Craig LaBan reviews Simply Shabu in Chinatown and finds that the Asian version of fondue is a hit.

The Chinese woman beside us said the meat portions seemed skimpy compared to her nearby favorites. And no doubt the heap of shaved meat at Happy Noodle Bar dwarfed the eight perfectly rolled curls of sliced beef at Simply Shabu. But there’s a major quality difference: the beef at Happy Noodle was so shabby that it instantly shriveled into wads of yellow fat, while Shabu’s nicely marbled USDA choice rib eye (Pennsylvania-raised like all of Shabu’s meats, and not unlike what goes into a good cheesesteak) remained beefy and superbly tender.

Two Bells – Very Good

Authentic hot pots heat up Chinatown [Philadelphia Inquirer]
Simply Shabu [Official]

West Philly Restaurant Falsely Accused of Serving Cats

Photo by Charles Mostoller via the Metro

Photo by Charles Mostoller via the Metro

On December 2nd, the Metro ran a story about the Pennsylvania State Senate considering a bill that would make it illegal to breed cats and dogs to eat. It would be only the seventh state to enact such legislation. Author Tommy Rowan asks George Bogle, the Pennsylvania SPCA’s director of law enforcement if he knew of any such circumstance. He recounted the story of a West Philadelphia restaurant that was butchering cats in its basement. Bogle refuses to give the name or address since the restaurant has since closed and reopened under new ownership.

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Stone Brewing Dinner at Han Dynasty

19_HANDYNASTY_Samuel Markey

Han Dynasty in Old City isn’t the only location of Han Chiang’s empire that is doing fun things. Han Dynasty in University City is hosting a beer dinner this Wednesday, December 4th with Stone Brewing. Each of the five courses (three different dishes per course) will be paired with a beer from the Southern California brewery including a couple of their most unusual.

The dinner is $60 plus tip and begins at 7 p.m. in the newly completed expansion of the restaurant. All of the dishes will be off-menu selections that have never been seen on the regular menu. Chiang himself will be serving up the dishes and Lee Marren from Stone Brewing will also be there.

Tickets can be reserved by calling Han Dynasty at 215-222-3711.

Stone Brewing menu at Han Dynasty » 

Where We’re Eating: Han Dynasty

han-dynasty-old-city-940

Han Chiang has graduated, shutting down his beloved (if small) Han Dynasty in Old City and moving the Szechuan restaurant across the street into the enormous, opulent 180-seat space formerly occupied by Reserve steakhouse (among other operations). The bar manager from the University City location has come over to craft a cocktail program for the new space. The menu is roughly the same burn-your-face-off-spicy Chinese food that’s served at all of Chiang’s other locations (at the same price point, despite the upgraded digs), but he’s added a late-night menu inspired by Taiwanese street food, served fast and cheap across a small second bar on the main floor. Highlights include the dry pepper fried chicken wings and the pork belly buns, but be on the lookout for frequent changes as Chiang tinkers with the new board.

Han Dynasty [Foobooz]

First appeared in the December, 2013 issue of Philadelphia magazine.

Red Kings 2 Is Open in Chinatown

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Red Kings 2 is now open at 1006 Race Street in Chinatown. Like the orignal at 933 Race Street, this one offers spicy Sichuan specialties like Dan Dan noodles and hard-to-resist soup dumplings. This location is offering long hours, open till 2 a.m., Sunday through Thursday and till 3 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.

Red Kings 2 [Yelp]

Photo via friedwontons4u

Bigger and Better at Nan Zhou Hand Drawn Noodle House

nan-zhou-noodles

Chef Zeng Feng Zhang has moved his Nan Zhou Hand Drawn Noodle House a block west on Race Street but the magic of the noodles remains. What Craig LaBan is most excited by are the new appetizers from the expanded menu.

An expanded menu, though, is the unexpected plus of Nan Zhou’s big expansion. In particular, don’t miss the surprisingly exotic chicken dumplings (fried is better than steamed), whose minced poultry fillings are flared with curry and rich coconut milk.

My biggest surprise, though, was the assortment of appetizers drawn from other regions of China. For vegetable starters, the shredded sea kelp tastes like snappy cold green noodles ignited with fresh garlic heat and sesame oil. Crunchy batons of raw turnip doused in sweet soy and vinegar are piled high with shriveled little fuzzy brown preserved plums that are as flavorful as they are ugly. The shredded potatoes are as addictive as they are a curious find in Chinatown, the cool, white, crunchy spud laces sparked with hot chile oil. Even more unusual, though, was the “gong” vegetable, a pickled green reminiscent of cactus in texture, but with a crunch so resonant, it rang in the back of my head like a bell.

Two Bells – Very Good

Nan Zhou Hand Drawn Noodle House [Philadelphia Inquirer]
Nan Zhou Hand Drawn Noodle House [Official Site]

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